After spending eight years serving in the US Navy as a corpsman for the Marines, Cody Ornbaun returned to his hometown of Grimes with an award-winning talent and a unique eye for photography.
“I am proud to call myself a self-taught photographer,” said Ornbaun who started his journey with a simple point-and-shoot camera.
“I started by just taking photographs and discovered the creative process,” said Ornbaun.
Ornbaun commented he was inspired by the work of Ansel Adams
“I still didn’t know much about photography, but I was determined to figure it out,” he said. “I began to read magazines, books and watch YouTube videos for advice and pointers. Every weekend was another learning point, and valuable experience gained.”
Ornbaun’s dedication to learning the craft paid off when his photograph “Mojave Desert Sidewinder” was selected as a finalist in 2016 Best of Nature Photography Contest at the San Diego Natural History Museum.
“Extremely proud of this photograph,” said Ornbaun.
He added, “I remember going to the Natural History Museum and looking at all the nature photos and hoping that one day I make it there. And that day has come!”
The photograph was on display from April to August.
Ornbaun’s work not only includes nature photography, flowers, and plant life, but also scenes from the battlefield,
“I was excited to photograph the rough life of the infantryman and the Afghan people,” said Ornbaun.
A few of his photographs were selected to hang in the US Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, as part of the Art in Embassies art contest called “Serving Through Their Eyes.”
Though his talent has shined, Ornbaun almost gave up the passion.
“While attending a military ball in Las Vegas, my photography equipment was stolen,” he said.” I had purchased all my photography equipment with the money I earned while deployed and in one night all my hard work was gone. I was devastated and seriously considering throwing in the towel and giving up on photography for good.”
Thankfully, with the help of family members, friends, and a few gracious people, Ornbaun did recover and continue his passion for photography.
Ornbaun continues to capture breathtaking subjects and images. All which are available on his website, blackshieldphotography.com
“The name comes from the collar device me and other corpsman wear while serving with the Marines,” said Ornbaun.
Today, Ornbaun is attending Butte College where he pursues a degree in the medical field; however, he is keeping his options open in the photography field.
On his return home, Ornbaun commented his favorite part about living in Colusa County is the small towns.
“I have lived in cities, and large cities,” said Ornbaun. “But there is something comforting about a small town where you know everyone.”■